Violence strikes another S. Africa mine

Sept. 3, 2012 at 2:18 PM
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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Sept. 3 (UPI) -- A clash during a protest at a South African gold mine injured four people Monday, 18 days after 34 strikers died in another mine confrontation, officials said.

Former employees staged a protest at Gold One's Modder East Mine in Springs and threw rocks at vehicles as they tried to enter the mine, CNN reported.

Security officers intervened and fired rubber bullets and tear gas, a mining company statement said.

The employees had been fired by Gold One for participating in an earlier protest, the statement said.

One of the victims of the latest clash was reported in critical condition.

On Aug. 16, striking workers clashed with police at the Lonmin PLC platinum mine in Marikana. Thirty-four strikers were killed by police gunfire.

About 270 miners were arrested and charged with murder in that incident but those charges were dropped.

The provisional dropping of the charges followed outrage over the use of an apartheid-era policy called "common purpose" to charge the miners in the deaths of their co-workers.

The killings were the bloodiest confrontation between police and civilians since the end of apartheid.

Police have said they acted in self-defense.

The dropping of the charges followed a call by South Africa's justice minister to explain why the miners were charged in the slayings of their colleagues.

"It is inconceivable" to suspect the miners killed their own co-workers and relatives, Jeffrey Radebe said in a statement.

The prosecution's decision "has induced a sense of shock, panic and confusion within the members of the community and the general South African public," he said.

In dropping the charges, National Prosecuting Authority officials did not admit to any error in initially charging the miners.

The original decision was based on a "sound principle" that is applicable in a democracy, acting National Director of Prosecutions Nomgcobo Jiba, who made the decision to drop the charges, told reporters in a hastily arranged news conference Sunday.

The men could still be charged at a later date if further investigation suggests such charges are warranted, she said.

The massacre is being investigated by police, by the watchdog Independent Police Investigative Directorate and by a judicial commission of inquiry set up by President Jacob Zuma.

Provincial prosecutor Johan Smit, responsible for the original decision to press the murder charges, said prosecutors had not ruled out filing charges against police.

"The actions of the police will be sorted out still," he said. "We're not ignoring that."

Topics: Jacob Zuma
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